What a week

What a week! I’ll remember it for years to come. It was a tremendous honor to win the 2020 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department tournament and to set a new record for the widest margin of victory in the process.

What happened on Lake Fork, though, is about more than catching big bass. It offered up a couple of important lessons that I want to share with everyone. I think they’ll help all of us catch more fish in the future. They will me, for sure. 

The first thing I want to address is the electronics issue. I know that there has been a lot of talk and media coverage about my using Garmin Panoptix Livescope along with my Humminbird MEGA 360 imaging. Some have gone so far as to say that’s why I won, because it’s so good like that and because I’m so good with it.

Well, there’s no doubt that Livescope and 360 is an unbelievable combination. It’ll let you see things you could only dream about a few years ago. But let’s be honest. There are about 40 other guys out there that have the same exact system I have. And, they are just as good at making adjustments, changes and tweaks as I am. 

The truth is that I found a pattern that no one else found, and I found it trying to do something different from winning the tournament.

Going into Texas I knew I had a spot locked up in the 2021 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts. I wasn’t worried about that. My plan was to throw big swimbaits in the timber and try to win that new Toyota truck for catching the biggest fish. Winning is always a goal, but I was really fishing for a new truck. I thought I’d look good driving it around. That’s assuming Emily didn’t take it away from me.

My swimbait in the timber didn’t work out very well. Once I saw that happening I switched to the same lures I was throwing at the 2020 Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open at Cherokee Lake. They were still tied on and in my rod locker. I caught a couple of big ones and then realized that there were more quality fish in the timber than I thought. After that it was a matter of watching my electronics and casting and winding.

Even after the third day I wasn’t thinking about winning. I knew that no lead, no matter how big, is safe on Lake Fork. There are so many giants in there that just a few casts can change things up in a hurry.

Now, here’s what I think about what happened, and the lessons I took from it. First, do not let pressure get the better of you. Let things unfold naturally. I wasn’t feeling any pressure going into the tournament, and that helped me make good decisions. 

Second, you can’t ever learn too much about how to use your electronics. I don’t care if you have the combination I have or another system made by a different company that’s got a little age on it. It’s not about having what I have. You can catch fish with what you have. What I have is new. But it wasn’t always new, and I caught a lot of fish with what I had.   

And, it’s really important to learn how to reset everything back to factory defaults. That’ll let you mess with everything while you’re learning and then go back to the beginning if things get away from you. I do it all the time.

I’m thankful beyond words for everything last week. I’ll see you at the Classic.

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